Maternal characteristics and the production and recruitment of sons in the eastern kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus)

Amy C. Dolan, Michael T. Murphy, Lucas J. Redmond, Debbie Duffield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Sex allocation theory predicts that if variance in reproductive success differs between the sexes, females who are able to produce high-quality young should bias offspring sex ratio towards the sex with the higher potential reproductive success. We tested the hypothesis that high-quality (i.e., heavy) female eastern kingbirds (Tyrannus tyrannus) that bred early in the breeding season would produce male-biased clutches. A significant opportunity for sexual selection also exists in this socially monogamous but cryptically polygamous species, and we predicted that successful extra-pair (EP) sires would be associated with an excess of male offspring. Although population brood sex ratio did not differ from parity, it increased significantly with female body mass and declined with female breeding date, but was independent of the morphology and display (song) behavior (correlates of reproductive success) of social males and EP sires. Male offspring were significantly heavier than female offspring at fledging. Moreover, the probability that male offspring were resighted in subsequent years declined with breeding date, and was greater in replacement clutches, but lower when clutch size was large. Probability of resighting female offspring varied annually, but was independent of all other variables. Given that variance in reproductive success of male kingbirds is much greater than that of females, and that male offspring are more expensive to produce and have a higher probability of recruitment if fledged early in the season, our results support predictions of sex allocation theory: high-quality (heavy) females breeding when conditions were optimal for male recruitment produced an excess of sons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1527-1537
Number of pages11
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jun 5 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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